Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wines Of Italy’s Umbria Region Beckon With Style And Flavor

Umbria is located in central Italy – the only Italian region without a coastline or a border with another country. What it does have, is outstanding wine.

A Journey To Central Italy

I had a chance to visit Umbria earlier a few weeks ago, but I didn’t take a plane. I was whisked there through modern digital technology – and a corkscrew. As a participant in Wine Studio, an interactive wine education program conducted via social media, I was able to visit this historic land without worrying about what to pack. I have written about Montefalco and was anxious to savor other delights of the region.

Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. It includes part of the Apennine Mountains as well as the Tiber River. In literature, Umbria has been called “the green heart of Italy.” Sadly, the Amandola region of Umbria was devastated recently by an earthquake and aftershocks.

A Trio of Wines from Castello di Magione

The Exploration Begins

Our taste of Umbria included a trio of wines from Castello di Magione, which enabled us to sample 900 years of tradition in a glass. Today the estate spans 1,325 hectares of farmland with 30 hectares of vines, but its notoriety began as a defensive shelter for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, Rome and Compostela. Today a magnificent medieval castle stands watch over the estate and is depicted on the wine labels.

My first sip was white, the Castello di Magione 2013 Monterone Grechetto. It is from the Colli del Trasimeno DOC region. The wine is a golden yellow and I was struck by a waft of lemon as I inhaled the aroma. This is a joyful wine with a slight acidity. What a way to start!

My wife, the Green Dragon, paired the 2014 Castello di Magione Sangiovese with a ham and orzo dish with some cauliflower. The Sangiovese had a delightful herbal quality. It is vibrant and sensual with cooked cherry flavors. This IGT wine is smooth and perfect for a light entrée.

Is This Wine A Heap Of Stones?

We closed the tasting with the 2008 Castello di Magione Morcinaia, also from the Colli del Trasimeno DOC. Morcinaia is an Umbrian word roughly meaning a heap of stones placed on the edge of a plot of land when work begins on creating a vineyard. What?

Perhaps the winemaker was referring to Morcinaia as a solid wine, which indeed it is. Upon first sip, I was awash with a blast of wet berries.

This is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese. It is a balanced wine with luxurious flavors. It is intense and complex, but never heavy or ponderous. This is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in recent months.

Although Castello di Magione is deeply rooted in history, their winemaking is bolstered by a new winery which opened in 2009. Their wines are fresh and compelling.

Umbria is not as well known as Italy’s spotlight wine regions. Let’s change that. These wines are three good reasons to explore this land of history and tradition.

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